South Saint Vrain (#909)

Photo showing aspen along the trail in the South St Vrain area

Length: Beaver Reservoir Road (County Road [CR] 96) Trailhead (TH) to the Sourdough Trail - 3.1 miles; to Brainard Lake - 5.9 miles. DISTANCES ARE ONE-WAY.

Elevation: 8,700 feet at the TH; 9,600 feet at Sourdough Trail; 10,400 feet at Brainard Lake.

Trail Description: From County Road 96, the South Vrain Trail climbs west along South Saint Vrain Creek. In about two miles, the trail follows an old road, then turns off to the right (north) and climbs to avoid private property. At the top of this climb, the trail crosses an old road with signs to the Stapp Lakes. The Stapp Lakes are on private property with no public access.

At 3.1 miles, South Saint Vrain Trail crosses the Sourdough Trail. The trail continues gently along a little ridge for another mile to an intersection with the Waldrop Trail. The trail drops down and crosses a creek before the Brainard Lake Cutoff Trail forks left (south). The South Saint Vrain Trail crosses a meadow to reach the Mitchell Lake Trailhead spur road north of Brainard Lake.

Click here for a trail summary.

View a trail map here.

At a Glance

Fees: If accessing this trail through Brainard Lake Recreation Area, fees apply during the summer operating season. Interagency Annual, Military, Senior or Access passes, Golden Age and Golden Access passes are accepted. No fee is charged when the seasonal gate is closed (winter season).
Usage: Light
Best Season: June through October
  • Prohibited: Motorized use, pack animals (horses/llamas); recreational shooting (except for legal hunting) and being on trails posted as closed.
  • Brainard Lake Recreation Area Summer Season: Dogs must be on a hand-held leash at all times; dispersed camping is prohibited. When open, camping is only allowed within Pawnee Campground (no camping is permitted in closed campgrounds).
  • Brainard Lake Recreation Area Winter Season: Motorized vehicles are prohibited; dogs allowed only on the Brainard Lake and Lefthand Park Reservoir Roads; camping is prohibited within 1/4 mile of developed recreation sites except Red Rock Lake.
  • Unless seasonal restrictions are in effect, campfires must be attended at all times and cold to the touch with the bare hand before being abandoned.
  • Collection of dead and down wood is allowed; do not break branches from standing trees for firewood.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles.
  • Fishing and Hunting: Permitted in accordance with regulations established by Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Closest Towns: Ward, Colorado
Water: South Saint Vrain Creek; treat water for drinking.
Restroom: Practice Leave No Trace principles
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service

General Information


From Ward, drive 2.6 miles north on Colorado Highway 72 to County Road 96 (look for the Boy Scout Camp sign). The east end of the South Saint Vrain Trail is just across the bridge, close to Highway 72.


The South Saint Vrain Trail runs generally east-to-west along the South Saint Vrain Creek. It can be accessed from South Saint Vrain Trailhead or Red Rock Trailhead, and can be combined with segments of the Sourdough, Waldrop or CMC trails for loop opportunities.


Mountain Biking

River and Stream Fishing

Day Hiking


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